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Great example of electro-mechanics and hydraulics: A gigaproject

14 July 2021

EQUANS is fully engaged in the electro-hydraulic renovation of no fewer than 20 engineering structures on and around the Dessel-Turnhout-Schoten canal. In total, 9 locks and 11 bridges will not only be renovated by the Mobility-Water teams, but also linked to a remote control platform. “We are delivering completely new installations for electricity, hydraulics, VHF and cameras. We are also integrating technology that allows the bridges and locks to be operated remotely,” says Rob Lacroix, Project Manager Mobility – Water – North.

From design to installation and maintenance: EQUANS can draw on its broad experience of hydraulic and electro-mechanical infrastructure, on and along waterways. As an expert in the design & build of electro-mechanical and hydraulic installations, EQUANS got involved in this gigaproject via public tender.

We have to renovate all the electro-mechanical and hydraulic systems on all the existing bridges and locks from Schoten to Rijkevorsel, as well as two upstream bridges, and bring them up to modern standards. We are delivering completely new electricity installations, hydraulics, VHF radio and camera installations. The local installations are being renewed and integrated into a new remote control. This technology allows the bridges and locks to be operated remotely. As such, we are also building a new control centre in Rijkevorsel with six new operator stations that can each operate 2 engineering structures simultaneously. This means a total of 12 of the 20 structures can be operated remotely at the same time. Of course, there are many safety aspects to be considered. For example, the local installation is linked to a remote operator station via a redundant fibre network, which is fully SIL approved. After construction, we will also be responsible for the maintenance of the central remote control and local sites for 5 years.
Rob Lacroix

Two paths of planning

Currently, 4 bridges and 5 locks have been renovated and put into service. “As far as planning is concerned, we follow a separate schedule for the locks and bridges,” says Rob Lacroix. “Once the earthwork at a lock has been completed, earthworks start at the next lock immediately. And the same applies to the cable works. We are therefore working on three lock complexes simultaneously; two are in the works phase while preliminary study is carried out on the next site.
The bridges are a different story because each bridge is unique and needs to be approached differently. Bridges are more complex with regard to safety standards, for example. This means we work bridge by bridge.”
For EQUANS, this is an assignment that fits our core business perfectly.

This is exactly what we do: successfully execute multi-discipline technical projects in close cooperation with our customer, taking the evolution of technology, legislation and standards into account. Mobility-Water is a department that builds complete installations. Simply put, we receive a file containing the expectations, and we deliver the correct design and engineering to achieve a result that meets the requirements. Naturally, we do this fully in accordance with the Machinery Directive. For remote control, the design and implementation elements are certainly no mean feat. Imagine it, you push a button in a control room and a 300-tonne bridge comes to life 50 km away. And it is done safely and reliably.
Rob Lacroix
vlaamse waterweg
vlaamse waterweg

Challenging, but very enjoyable

This project is a challenge, technically and in terms of planning. “The totality of this project is unique for us”, explains Rob Lacroix. “Electricity, cameras, VHF radio, hydraulics, etc. All the systems must be attuned to each other. All the islands are connected to each other via IO-link communication and a global fibre optic network, and communication takes place via sensors. After successful implementing the technology on a previous project and being satisfied with the quality, safety and simplicity, we decided to use it for this project, but on a larger scale. In addition, all 20 engineering structures will be completed in 4 to 5 years. This is very fast, so good preparation and planning is crucial.”

EQUANS is very satisfied with the co-operation it has had from the other parties.

The working relationship, both internally with the workers and Automation team, and externally with the customer, has been very good. And it’s so good now, you would hardly notice it. We communicate transparently. One of the strengths of EQUANS is flexibility. We have all the knowledge and expertise in-house. As a result, we are not dependent on outsourcing. We can always turn to our own organisation, namely the Mobility division, to answer our questions and provide solutions.
Rob Lacroix

Even smoother inland shipping

Inland shipping keeps 3.5 million trucks off the road every year, and the Vlaamse Waterweg is determined to increase that number by 100,000 trucks per year for a number of years. Invariably, EQUANS also strives for improved mobility, and its contribution to smoother inland shipping is achieved through its activities and expertise. For example, EQUANS has been busy with the upgrading of the Albert Canal for some time, for which the installation of the pump and hydroelectric power stations at the various lock complexes in Hasselt, Ham, Olen and Diepenbeek are being implemented to maintain the water level. EQUANS also cooperated with design & build activities on the large Seine Scheldt project, as well as being responsible for the optimisation of the installations and/or electrical renovations of various other bridges.

salle de controle
20
Renovation of structures
20
Renovation of 11 bridges and 9 locks
- 3.5 millions
Fewer trucks per year thanks to inland shipping
20
Renovation of structures
20
Renovation of 11 bridges and 9 locks
- 3.5 millions
Fewer trucks per year thanks to inland shipping
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